Showing 411 - 420 of 429 annotations tagged with the keyword "Cancer"

When

Williams, C. K. (Charles Kenneth)

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A wonderful poem about an old, dying man recognizing he is dying before any one else in the family will admit it. He wants them to help him die--a kind of family consensus on euthanasia, which he seems to control. After much family discussion, they agree to help him by giving him enough pills to "put him to sleep." He jokes with his family as they assist his dying: "On the day it would happen, the old man would be funny again: wolfing down handfuls of pills, 'I know this'll upset my stomach,' he'd say."

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Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

Terry Tempest Williams, a thirty-four year old Mormon woman and naturalist based in Salt Lake City, Utah, considers herself part of "The Clan of One-Breasted Women." Ten women of her family, including Williams, have been treated or have died from breast cancer. Is this just an example of the randomness of nature, or is it related to the fact that Williams and her family were residing in the "virtually uninhabited" plains downwind of the atomic bomb testing grounds from 1951 to 1962?

When her book begins, Williams' mother has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the book follows the next five years of her life and death. At the same time, the Great Salt Lake is rising to record heights, flooding the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and scattering the birds and animals with whom Williams has lived her life. The interplay of the uncontrollable elements of nature and the inevitability of life and death make this book an elegant study of "renewal and spiritual grace," and an excellent and unusual telling of a daughter learning how to grieve for her mother.

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St. Peregrinus' Cancer

Hall, Judith

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A highly referential poem, "St. Peregrinus' Cancer" (eight stanzas of four couplets each) "may be most indebted to the arcane [book] Watercolours of Cancer Patients' Dreams (Phoebe Lord, M.D., London, 1964)" according to the poet. (See pg. 254 of the anthology for a description of the poet and her comments on this poem.) The poem starts with an image of St. Peregrinus (Laziosi, the 14th century Italian patron saint of cancer patients who was himself miraculously cured of a cancerous foot after a night of prayer) crossing a field and quickly moves internally to the poet's family and private world, describing her and her mother's cancers. A dense poem, it relies heavily on imagery and punning (the word "crab" appears twice in case the reader didn't get the reference the first time).

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Summary:

These three short plays (approximately 30 minutes each) were commissioned for use in readers' theatre (see Commentary). Each addresses a specific patient/provider concern at the end of life. "Journey Into that Good Night" by Berry Barta is the story of a dying adolescent coming to terms with her mortality. Her physician demonstrates gratifying sensitivity in his understanding of her emotional struggle and the girl's mother progresses perceptibly in her own grief process in the course of the dialogues.

Marjorie Ellen Spence offers "Stars at the Break of Day," set in a nursing home where a middle aged man dying of cancer is confined. The reader meets a spectrum of elderly residents whose antics provide the humor necessary to keep the piece from becoming maudlin. There is discussion about assisted suicide as well as a view into one mode of accepting pain and impending, albeit untimely, death.

The third play, "Time to Go," by C. E. McClelland, is a fantasy which combines comic whimsy with a penetrating and profound sense of reality. The central issue is that of "letting go" of a son who has long lived in a persistent vegetative state following an accident. The victim's story is articulated in conversations between him and visiting "Friends" from another realm. Without introducing theology or politics, the conversations direct the reader to focus on the parents' reluctance to make a decision to discontinue life support.

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Dr. Gold & Dr. Green

Straus, Marc

Last Updated: Dec-19-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In this poem a patient speaks to "Dr. Green," commenting on how much she likes him compared to her earlier doctor, "Dr. Gold," who wore a long face and would never smile. "Dr. Gold has track shoes on" but to Dr. Green she says: "You never seem / to be in a hurry even // though you're so busy . . . . " The patient would like "a little rest / before the next treatment, at least till / I'm stronger."

In the companion poem, "Dr. Gold & Dr. Green, II" (also found in One Word), the physician responds to his patient, Eleanor, who presumably wrote the first poem. He realizes that he himself is actually Dr. Green and Dr. Gold. Even though he tries to spend time with his patients, he now realizes that sometimes he must have appeared hurried and distant: "You tried / to say that each of us has two sides. / I wish I understood this before you died."

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The House of the Future

Cooper, Bernard

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A long story (35 pages) within a book of stories about the author's family, "The House of the Future" movingly describes from the perspective of a precocious 12 year old the death from cancer of his older brother, age 17. The story, subtitled "a reminiscence," conveys in a remarkable way the hopes and fears, the habits and idiosyncrasies of this ordinary and outlandish family. The belief in the clarity of architecture which sustained the younger brother through the year of his older brother's dying, collapses in the end, leaving him to enter a new house, a new ambiguous space, for making sense of his loss.

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Sheila's Dying

Carter, Alden

Last Updated: Dec-10-1996
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Jerry, a basketball player, is going with Sheila, who hates Bonnie, who volunteers at the hospital. After bouts of intense, unfamiliar pain, Sheila learns that she has cancer of the ovaries and intestines. Sheila lives with an alcoholic grandmother; Jerry, with a single working mother and sister. The story treats Jerry's desire for sex, his friends' avoidance, and the dilemmas he faces as taking care of Sheila cuts into school and team commitments.

He wonders whom to tell, what to say to Sheila, and how to stick with a girl through defacing illness. He finds he's not in love with her. He's unsure how to handle his own family obligations as he realizes that he's the only "family" Sheila can count on. But he stays with her until the end.

His fidelity has little to do with romantic love, but rather with a larger kind of love he's learning. Sheila's death is partly a relief. Jerry needs to regroup and go on with his life after this cataclysmic hiatus. The going on, it seems, will involve Bonnie, the hospital volunteer whom neither Jerry nor Sheila appreciated until her unseasonable maturity helped them in time of need.

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The Size of the Lesion

Straus, Marc

Last Updated: Dec-09-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Sometimes communication is best served when it doesn't communicate baldly and precisely. In this 12 line poem "a daughter comes in late / and you don't say exactly what you feel . . . ." You tell a patient "the x-ray showed / little change, knowing they won't ask / if the lesion's a little smaller or larger."

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A Time for Dancing

Hurwin, Davida Wills

Last Updated: Dec-09-1996
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Julie and Samantha have been best friends since they met in a dancing class at age nine. Now, at sixteen, they are closer than sisters, at home in each other's families, sharing everything, imagining their futures together

Julie, who has been feeling unusually fatigued and experiencing hip pain, finds, after several misdiagnoses, that she has diffuse histiocytic lymphoma, a type of cancer. She begins a course of aggressive chemotherapy and with it an inner journey that gradually distances her from family, friends, and in particular Sam--in ways none of them could have predicted.

Love is stretched for all of them beyond where it has had to reach before. There are periods of silence, odd pretenses, and conversations of unprecedented intimacy as Julie, her parents, and her best friend chart their bumpy course through shock and various tactics of accommodation to final acknowledgment that Julie is dying. Julie's own accelerated growth into an enlarged consciousness of the shape of her own life and destiny, and Sam's growth into a kind of emotional and psychological independence she'd never known before are the focus of this story, each girl narrating her own side of the story in alternating chapters.

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Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Thirteen-year-old Sarah's mother, a lively, successful lawyer, discovers she has metastatic cancer. The story covers the months between her diagnosis and death. Sarah's dad is a minor character; there is little portrayal of his relationship with the mother, or with Sarah, except when he's announcing bad news. Sarah finds herself reacting in unexpected ways--feeling hateful, angry, detached, paralyzed, inclined to deny the whole thing.

The supporting character is Sarah's friend, Robin, whose mother has agoraphobia, never goes anywhere, knows few people, and rarely allows Robin to invite Sarah over. Sarah comes to understand this problem for the first time when her own mother's illness opens channels of communication between the girls.

The moment of the mother's death is described briefly but vividly: "Mom suddenly lifted both hands, pressed them hard against her forehead. She looked at me once, her eyes huge, and for an instant, it was as if she were pleading with me." The mystery of what her mother might have wanted in that final moment haunts Sarah--a reminder that death leaves questions with no answers. As the story ends, Sarah rereads a note from her mother which concludes, "'Don't let anybody tell you differently. What we're going through stinks. It just plain stinks." The novel ends with this emotional truth, making little attempt to soften it by speculation about afterlife.

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